Does it refer to identity, or how they look? It feels ambiguous to me.

Clothes have always been carriers of meaning and key resources for identity work, but their role as resources for identity work varies across age lines. Whereas the older women typically make fewer excursions to the shops and have in mind aims and objectives when they do and do not enjoy being distracted, younger women are more likely to view shopping as a leisure-time pursuit, more likely to visit a shop with no specific purchase in mind. The clothing purchases of older women are more likely to be linked to specific needs (professional and social) or to their household budgets. For these women, identity will be further removed, than for younger women, from how they look and its significance. It will be linked to matters such as professional standing, children, social roles and obligations. By contrast, younger women purchase things that help them expand their self-perceived identities and images. Entities far more complex than clothes are being tried on in the changing rooms, where a dress becomes something that ‘fits’ or may be ‘grown into’ in a symbolic as well as a physical sense.

Music in Everyday Life

2 Answers 2


It is not an elegant sentence.

It means

from their physical appearance and its subjective significance.

In other words, the distinction being drawn is between a relatively exclusive focus on the social consensus about the professional, functional, and tribal significance of clothes and a more complex focus that includes individual and subjective elements. It says that older women have adopted a narrower and less subjective approach to selecting clothes than younger women.


I liked @JeffMorrow's answer and upvoted it. You should to. But I wanted to expand on it.

I took the time to read the reference link (thank you for providing it!). That whole paragraph is terrible. I could believe the author dictated the book using voice-to-text software because the sentence you're referring to would be easier to read if written like this:

For these women identity will be further removed (than for younger women) from how they look and its significance.

...And even that's bad. I believe what the author is trying to say is...

The expression of an older woman's identity will be further removed from their clothing choices because of the restrictions placed upon them by their circumstances, such as their careers and household budgets.

My Answer

"It" refers to how well a woman's choice of clothing reflects her individuality (identity).

But, to be honest, I can't be sure without reading two pages before and after the paragraph. The author is rambling and it makes following what she's trying to say difficult. It's not helped that...

  • She's using catchphrases she hopes will be attributed to her (e.g. "identity work"),

  • She's using the ambiguous but politically popularized word "identity" to mean "individualism" or "individuality,"

  • And that (in my opinion) no one edited the author's book.

  • 1
    By the way, I upvoted your answer as well. I focused on the sentence itself. I had a suspicion that if I read the citation, I’d get a headache. Commented May 31, 2022 at 14:52
  • @JeffMorrow You would have - it's embarrassing what passes for academic publishing today.
    – JBH
    Commented May 31, 2022 at 16:46

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